Program to Improve and Sustain Heart Healthy Behaviors among Minorities and Older Women


Post By: Scott Evelyn, Cigna President and General Manager, Tri-State Market.


About Heart Disease and Women

Although many patients think of heart disease as striking men more often than women, you as health care professionals know all too well that more women than men die from heart disease each year. In terms of the statistics, approximately 43 million women in the U.S. are affected by heart disease and almost half a million American women will suffer from a heart attack every year, according to the American Heart Association.

Recognizing heart disease can be especially challenging for men and women because it manifests differently by gender—in other words, women’s symptoms are different from those of men. Fortunately, through public health educational programs, women can learn more about and better understand their unique symptoms of heart disease, thus empowering them to then take the appropriate steps towards reducing their risks of heart disease.


Cigna Foundation and NYUNC Team Up to Help Women Help Themselves 

In an effort to promote this self-care approach, two organizations are joining together to encourage women to improve and sustain heart healthy habits. Specifically, to help women live long and well with heart disease, the Cigna Foundation recently awarded the New York University College of Nursing (NYUCN) with a $100,000 World of Difference grant to develop and pilot the Helping Women Help Themselves to Improve Heart Health (Helping Women Help Themselves) program. This program’s objective is to improve and sustain heart healthy behaviors in racial minorities and older women with, or at risk, of heart disease.

Once launched, Helping Women Help Themselves will use the resources of the YMCA of Greater New York, a well-established social service organization, to offer support in a community setting.  The program will be housed at three YMCA branches near NYU, Columbia University, and Mount Sinai Hospital, which serve diverse racial and ethnic populations. To encourage active participation, a two-month membership to the YMCA will be provided at no cost to women who enroll in the program. Team support and motivation also will be provided by Cigna employees, who will assist with the project’s social media and online discussion groups facilitated through the YMCA website. In addition, Cigna’s Women’s Colleague Resource Group, an employee support and networking organization, will serve on the advisory board for the project.

The success of the program will be evaluated according to improvement in women’s self-care (e.g., taking medications, eating a low sodium/low-fat diet) and quality of life, along with metrics such as sustained participation in the program, women’s blood pressure, Body Mass Index, and cholesterol levels. The program hopes to ease the transition for many women from the hospital setting back to work and settling into their other daily routines, taking into account women’s social preferences.

If successful, the program will be considered for potential expansion throughout the YMCA’s national network of 2,600 centers.

Cigna and the Cigna Foundation are honored to support the NYUCN in furthering its mission to improve and sustain heart healthy behaviors among racial minorities and older women. I am especially excited to see the community come together to provide women with heart disease access to physical activity, nutritional education, and wellness resources to help them live long and well in the New York area.

Please read the press release to learn more about the Cigna Foundation’s grant to the NYUCN program.



About Scott Evelyn  

Scott Evelyn, Cigna’s president and general manager for the Tri-State market, works to enhance customer satisfaction through personalized service and improve quality of care by working in collaboration with New York area heath care professionals. He also works to ensure that Cigna’s product and network offerings meet the evolving needs of the marketplace, assisting clients to improve the health and productivity of their workforces, and leading Cigna’s efforts to serve the community.


This is a Sponsored Blog Post By Cigna.



  1. Scott Evelyn says:

    Thanks Crystal for your comment. We agree with you on the importance of empowering individuals through improving health education and awareness. Since we know that some patients find self-care and behavioral change challenging, this program is designed to help make the transition to self-care easier. We too are looking forward to the success of this program and the positive impact it will have on the community. You can also learn more about the Cigna Foundation’s initiatives to support to organizations working to improve women’s health, children’s wellness, senior care and health equity at

  2. crystal T says:

    A fantastic collaboration to empower underserved populations by incorporating social and ecological equitable principles of education and health improvement. That is, as people gain knowledge and skills they have the power to improve their socio-economic status which then empowers to improve health. inequalities in income differentials and health care that correlate with gender, race, and age continue to exist, and in some areas have worsened. I look forward to seeing how this collaboration will mitigate.